This week is world breastfeeding week, and I am so thrilled today to be guest posting at the Natural Parents Network – a very near and dear to my heart post that is co-written with fellow blogger, Krista of Think Mama, Think.
Krista came to me with the idea of writing a post together when she came across my own breastfeeding experiences on my blog and realized how incredibly similar they were to her’s. She wanted to explore together why our stories ended so differently – in hopes of helping other moms – and I was very happy to do so.
I wasn’t able to make breastfeeding work for me, but it is continually my hope that my story will help other moms move forward where I did not.
I’ve also become very determined to make it happen next time around!
I wrote 2 posts a few months back that I entitled ‘My Breastfeeding Mistakes’ Part 1 & Part 2. They were areas where I could see, with the benefit of hindsight and the perspective of several months, where I had ‘gone wrong’.
A commenter gently corrected me on calling them ‘mistakes’, and I am happy to quote Justine’s comment here as she is so right on, and this is the message I hope gets passed on:
“I don’t think that YOU made any mistakes. Momma’s should not be blaming themselves. It sounds as if you ran into all the typical “Booby Traps” that our society creates for breastfeeding moms. Read more about Booby Traps here: http://www.bestforbabes.org/category/booby-traps/ They are sneaky, unfair and EVERWHERE and they make great momma’s feel that they didn’t do their best. The system winds up failing us sometimes, and it is up to smart momma’s like us to say “we can do better next time!” One thing that being a momma for 22 years has taught me is that it is never too late to be a better parent…there are plenty of “mistakes” I made with my older kids that I have chosen NOT to repeat with their younger siblings.“
Justine’s comment is something of an embodiment of every single comment I’ve received on the posts I’ve written about my experiences. Some of those posts – the first, especially – were ones where I was fearful of hitting the publish button in light of all the judgement I was sure I’d receive.
But that hasn’t happened – not once. This incredible community has rallied around me and made me believe that I should not have been so alone in the first place, and that I never will be again. They’ve encouraged me in the belief that I am a good mama and that I will be able to do it next time around.
They have shown the kind of support that I had no idea even existed after reading harsh, judgmental comments on so many blog posts about breastfeeding.
Since that time I’ve only found more loving support from so many lactivists. I cannot adequately convey how grateful I am for these women – people who show support no matter what. They are passionate about breastfeeding, but it doesn’t get in the way of their love and caring for moms as human beings – no matter what decisions they end up making about how to feed their child.
When I was pregnant, I read The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding and looked up the La Leche League meetings in my area.
Something held me back from calling the leader though – I put it down to shyness, but I think I made myself afraid of facing a whole group of people who might judge me if I were to mess up (not that I believe judgment is typical of LLL meetings! ).
I think I was wrong.
It’s very true that there are plenty of judgmental people out there when it comes to all kinds of topics we can think of, but that can’t hold us back from seeking support.
As Krista said in our post at NPN, “…we are forced to collect a team of supporters who are often strangers — they may have good intentions, but ultimately they have little invested in the outcome of our feeding relationship. When we’re stuck in this kind of isolation, sometimes the only thing separating breast from bottle is one of those strangers saying the right word at the right moment.”
It is true that the lactation consultants I saw were not helpful to me – the first one (in hospital) pointed out only what I was doing wrong and offered few suggestions; the second one seemed scared by my tears – she watched me nurse, listened to my descriptions of my pain, told me I was doing it right and should keep on doing the same thing and sent me on my way.
I let that turn me off to seeking more support.
My midwife, on the other hand, was tireless in doing what she could to assist me. And when I made my decision to discontinue breastfeeding, I was terrified of telling her. I had real love for this woman who had been there for me throughout my entire pregnancy and postpartum experience – I did not want to see disappointment in her eyes!
I made my husband take off work and come with me to that appointment – I thought I was going to need someone in my corner.
But this beautiful woman did not make me feel bad for one second as I haltingly told her of my decision. She praised me for all the effort I had already gone to – she said she had never seen a mom who had tried so hard to press through so many problems, and that she understood. She then helped point me in the right direction for learning more about bottle feeding and the best way to go about it.
I’ve been very sorry now for a long time that I didn’t keep on – but I’ve learned a lot since that time.
Not every avenue I go down will offer the support I need. Not every mom out there will be kind about my decision.
But there are a world of them who are, and will be. They are the ones I will turn to when I have my next child – they are the ones I will continue to encourage and praise whenever I come across them. They are the ones I hope to be among when I become a doula in support of other moms.
If you are among these awesome, supportive lactivists, I give you my thanks from the bottom of my heart. You truly deserve it! I hope all moms seeking help have the opportunity to find it among people like you.
Please visit the Natural Parents Network to read the story Krista and I have shared about our experiences.
I’m celebrating World Breastfeeding Week with Natural Parents Network!
You can, too — link up your breastfeeding posts from August 1-7 in the linky below, and enjoy reading, commenting on, and sharing the posts collected here and on Natural Parents Network.
(Visit NPN for the code to place on your blog.)